Wow.  So I wasn't being overly cynical in surmising that the "Stanford Review" was carrying water for the reactionary white-nationalist movement.  Ugh.

Glad to hear that the Stanford Daily tackled it.  They definitely need to publish an editorial opinion too!  Counterspeech must be vigorous or "democracy dies in darkness," as the Wash Post says.

On Wed, Jan 31, 2018 at 3:23 PM, Chandler Davis <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Just so, Claudia.  David Palumbo-Liu would surely want it understood that the Stanford Review, which came out with this hatchet job and seems to be following up with more of the same, is NOT the student newspaper but an "independent" effort, funded you can guess how.  The student newspaper is the Stanford Daily.  It published David's response to the attack, and a snotty opinion piece by somebody (not alt-right but surely some kind of right); I haven't checked whether they have also registered an editorial opinion.  David's piece cited Joan Scott on free speech & academic freedom; good source.


On 2018-01-31 4:19 PM, Claudia Pine wrote:
Media of all sorts are both under fire in recent years, and also egging on those doing the shooting.  Quasi-media like Fox News are taking aim at mainstream media, and social media like Facebook (or if you like, another quasi-media) have begun to take responsibility for how easily they were used by an opposing foreign power to undermine both American media and American elections.

It's a good time to think about media ethics.

A recent case study is the harassment, via student newspaper, of Stanford's David Palumbo-Liu, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and professor of comparative literature.  Over 600 scholars have signed a letter objecting to opinionated and inflammatory characterization of his anti-fascist organizing, and asked Stanford University to review the student newspaper's behavior.

So, is the student paper carrying out "counterspeech" a la Brandeis, that adds to the free and fair public discussion, in pursuit of education on the issues?  OR is it instead, acting (wittingly or not) as a puppet for national hate groups and/or political partisanship by producing a piece loaded with "clickbait" phrases like calling the campus group Palumbo-Liu is affiliated with “undeniably a chapter of a terrorist group” that embraces “vigilante thuggery.”

I'd surmise that this is more than just some hothead, loudmouth students going over the top as per usual.  At the very least, as a student paper they DO ostensibly have advisors (who understand what journalistic professional practice is) and a public commitment to journalistic professionalism, including ethics.

There are varied framings of journalistic ethics, but all hew closely to the same fundamental principles.  Here's one website's quick summary:

Of the 5 principles espoused, #1 is Truth & Accuracy.

What the independent student newspaper, "The Stanford Review," said about the campus antifascist group (which Palumbo-Liu notes, does NOT embrace violence as a protest tool), clearly violates truth and accuracy, by intentionally - or at least recklessly - using words that are notably highly emotional, without showing that the antifascist group they apply them too meets the technical definitions for these terms (thuggery, vigilante, terrorist) in any way.

What does this have to do with Science for the People?

Well, it reminds me that when authoritarian forces aren't attacking scientists and science facts, they're off on other crusades against, in this case, truth and good journalism and good examples of professors who live their values outside the classroom as well as teaching them within.

It reminds me that there's a strong convergence between the principles of good science -- especially science for the people -- and those of good journalism:

1. Truth and Accuracy

Journalists cannot always guarantee ‘truth’, but getting the facts right is the cardinal principle of journalism. We should always strive for accuracy, give all the relevant facts we have and ensure that they have been checked. When we cannot corroborate information we should say so.

2. Independence

Journalists must be independent voices; we should not act, formally or informally, on behalf of special interests whether political, corporate or cultural. We should declare to our editors – or the audience – any of our political affiliations, financial arrangements or other personal information that might constitute a conflict of interest.

3. Fairness and Impartiality

Most stories have at least two sides. While there is no obligation to present every side in every piece, stories should be balanced and add context. Objectivity is not always possible, and may not always be desirable (in the face for example of brutality or inhumanity), but impartial reporting builds trust and confidence.

4. Humanity

Journalists should do no harm. What we publish or broadcast may be hurtful, but we should be aware of the impact of our words and images on the lives of others.

5. Accountability

A sure sign of professionalism and responsible journalism is the ability to hold ourselves accountable. When we commit errors we must correct them and our expressions of regret must be sincere not cynical. We listen to the concerns of our audience. We may not change what readers write or say but we will always provide remedies when we are unfair.

Can we work to make sure that our discussions of science and society on this list meet these standards?  YES, it's beyond important to call out science that is being dismissed by hidden interests (principles 2 and 3, of independence and impartiality). Or to show where social movements are influencing (or misunderstanding) science. 

But it's just as important to follow principles 1, 4 and 5 (accuracy, humanity and accountability) and remain honest about gaps in data, responsible in admitting them, and not harangue others as "thugs" or some other epithet when we disagree.

Do you think science and journalism are close in their professional principles?  Is this simply because both are empirical enterprises?  Is is more than that, an indicator that some underlying "arc that bends toward justice", or democracy, in each one?  Or is it just that we "liberals" or leftists are slanting them in that direction -- as many current reactionary/regressive conservatives are arguing? 

Claudia Pine

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. ― Benjamin Franklin

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne

Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are. ― Benjamin Franklin

The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.  -- Paul Cezanne